Pretty Brilliant aims to inspire girls to pursue STEM studies, careers

By: InnovatioNews Friday January 16, 2015 1 comments Tags: Fort Collins, Heidi Olinger, Kristen Candella, Pretty Brainy, Pretty Brilliant, STEM


Pretty Brainy logoFORT COLLINS - Starting Feb. 6, girls in local middle and high schools will team up with engineering majors at Colorado State University to design the lighting for a Habitat for Humanity home for a single mother and her children.

The Pretty Brilliant program is the first of its kind to benefit Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity, according to Kristen Candella, Habitat's executive director.

The program will immerse girls in engineering while supporting them in the goal of designing lighting to enhance home safety and energy efficiency.

Heidi Olinger, founder of Pretty Brainy - the education nonprofit spearheading Pretty Brilliant - said the vision for the program is to give girls a ready-made community of people with the resources and experience to help them on the road to pursuing studies and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Members of the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at CSU will serve as project managers for Pretty Brilliant.

"Placing informal mentoring at the heart of the program will increase our opportunity to inspire, support and sustain girls in STEM," said Olinger.

The program addresses the fact that fewer than one-quarter of degrees in engineering and engineering technologies in the United States are earned by females.

Space is available in Pretty Brilliant for 15 middle school and 15 high school girls. Registration is available online at or by calling 720-203-1749.

The program costs $99 and scholarships are available.

For more information on Pretty Brainy, visit [email protected].

About the Author: InnovatioNews

InnovatioNews is an online news magazine spotlighting innovative companies, products and people in Colorado. Launched in June of 2012, the site is the recipient of multiple awards.

Pretty Brilliant is possible thanks to support from the OtterCares Foundation ( and Environmental Lights ( We are grateful to their fine teams for sharing our vision of building community and confidence for girls in engineering and design. As girls themselves will say, they are helping to make our young people's greatest aspirations come true.

- Heidi Olinger